Manager of the foster care program Amalie Mannik said while the process was “thorough” it was not an “arduous” task, and Centacare provided ongoing support along the way.
Generally, the process involves an initial enquiry with an information pack sent to the potential carer. If they wish to continue, support workers will visit their home for an information exchange session and the potential carer/s will then complete an application form to start the assessment process.
“Potential carers then participate in training sessions and a series of assessment interviews. The assessment is not a pass or fail tool, but a process to discover whether fostering is a suitable option for the potential carer at that time,” Ms Mannik explained.
During Foster and Kinship Carer Week in September, new foster carer Jeannie shared her experience of the application and assessment process, which was completed in just eight weeks.
“If you’re interested, pick up the phone,” she urged. “As I found, no question is too silly. Everything is a step-by-step process. You don’t go see a support worker one day and get handed a child the next day without knowing what on earth is happening,” she said.
“You are made fully aware of the circumstances and the potential problems children can have. You are given ways to deal with it, training courses. “
Recently moving from WA, Jeannie said she had always wanted to become a foster carer, to “make a difference” in the lives of children.
“In an ideal world there shouldn’t be foster carers. In an ideal world, the children should be with their mum and dad on a fulltime basis, but we don’t live in an ideal world.
Foster care at crisis point
“We wanted to take these children who we know their background, and what they’ve been through in their short life, and be able to hand them back to their parents with the damage repaired and for them to be happy, healthy, loving children.”
Jeannie said her Centacare support worker, Daniella Fabbian-Hall, was a great source of information and support.
“We have our weekly meetings with Dani and any problems we do have – did we do this right or did we do this wrong? – Dani is there and we speak it out. We just have the conversation and she puts my mind at rest.
“I think the amount of people out there who think, oh I don’t know – give it a go! You are not signing your life away; you do the training and find out if it’s for you.
“This is the best job I’ve ever had. They can be little angels and little terrors, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.”
For more information about Centacare’s foster care program contact 8159 1400 or go to http://fostercare.centacare.org.au/